Justice Thomas: Racial disparities don’t always hurt black people. Look at the NBA! – Updated by German Lopez on June 25, 2015, 11:20 a.m. ET


The Supreme Court on Thursday saved a key component of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which protects against housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. But not every justice was happy with the decision.

The Supreme Court on Thursday saved a key component of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which protects against housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. But not every justice was happy with the decision.

Take, for example, Justice Clarence Thomas’s dissent, in which he argued that disparate racial impact is not a good way to measure racism. He pointed out the National Basketball Association (NBA) is mostly black yet it’s not considered racist, suggesting that not all racial disparities are considered unfair and unlawful:

Racial imbalances do not always disfavor minorities.… And in our own country, for roughly a quarter-century now, over 70 percent of National Basketball Association players have been black.

But cherry-picking one sports league misses the broader point of laws like the Fair Housing Act: they’re supposed to protect from systemic issues — and there’s little question that African Americans face huge disparities on a systemic level. Black Americans have lower wages even after attaining higher education, they’re less likely to get calls back for job applications, they’re mired by people’s subconscious racial biases, they’re more likelyto be shot and killed by police, and, yes, they still face residential segregation. When looking at the aggregate of these socioeconomic problems, it’s not hard to see why something like the Fair Housing Act might be needed to protect black people from widespread discrimination.

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